Ancient marble sculpture ‘The Aphrodite of Hamilton’ reappears at auction after more than 72 years
A marble sculpture depicting the Greek goddess Aphrodite will be offered in a one-off sale on December 7 at Sotheby’s London, with a pre-sale estimate of between £ 2 million and £ 3 million ($ 2.66 million and $ 3.99 millions of dollars).
The sculpture was last seen in 1949, when it was sold at an auction in New York City, Sotheby’s said.
Dating from the first or second century CE, the sculpture was partially restored in the 18th century after being rediscovered in 1775 by Gavin Hamilton (1723-1798), a Scottish art dealer and neoclassical painter. Douglas Hamilton, 8th Duke of Hamilton (1756-1799) of Scotland acquired the piece around 1776, according to Sotheby’s.
A portrait of Douglas Hamilton by Gavin Hamilton painted circa 1775-77 is held in the collection of the National Galleries Scotland.
The marble figure resided at Hamilton Palace, seat of the Dukes of Hamilton, for more than 144 years before being sold in 1919 to a London collector, Sotheby’s said. In 1920 it was acquired by the American newspaper baron
William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951), who then sold it in 1940 to Joseph Brummer, the Hungarian-born art dealer who operated a well-known gallery on East 57th Street in Manhattan.
After his death, Brummer’s estate sold the piece in 1949 to a private and anonymous collector, whose descendants are now offering it for sale, Sotheby’s said.
Known as Aphrodite of Hamilton, the sculpture depicts the naked Aphrodite, the goddess of love and the embodiment of female beauty. Standing over 6 feet tall, the goddess stands with the weight on her left leg, her head turned to her left, her wavy hair tied in a bun, and her ears pierced with earrings.
“The Duke of Hamilton is said to have fallen in love with Aphrodite the moment he first saw her, almost 250 years ago,” said Florent Heintz, head of the sculpture and works department. antique art from Sotheby’s, in a statement. “I also fell in love with her the moment I laid my eyes on her, struck as I was by her subtle blend of earthly beauty and divine majesty, and I hope the audience will share the same experience.”